Rapper/Alameda County Sheriff's Deputy.
Jinho "The Piper" Ferreira straddles two universes.
He is one-third of the Oakland alternative hip-hop band Flipsyde that gained international acclaim touring with the Black Eyed Peas and Snoop Dogg, among others. Two of the group's songs were selected as Olympic theme music at the games in 2006 in Italy and again in Beijing in 2008.
Two years ago, the Oakland native became an Alameda County Sheriff's Deputy. He was raised in West Oakland and majored in black studies at San Francisco State University.
Ferreira brings a unique perspective about the violence in Oakland to his new one-man play "Cops and Robbers." He has a vantage point that most people don't. Ferreira has a foot in the hip-hop world -- not as a wanna be rapper but as an authentic, well-respected MC. Yet he has also worked as a counselor at Alameda County juvenile hall and as a sheriff's deputy, where he has witnessed first hand the black-on-black genocide occurring in Oakland and in cities all across the country. He does not find anything glamorous about seeing someone's brains blown out and the contents of their stomach spilling out onto the street. Which he makes a reference to in the play.
"Cops and Robbers" examines the dysfunctional relationship between law enforcement, the community and the media which Ferreira believes, has prevented communities from finding real solutions to street violence. Everyone in the
The "Cops and Robbers" plot revolves around an Oakland police officer shooting an African-American man. Ferreira plays over a dozen different characters -- among them a black radical, thug, racist white cop, a television news reporter and a Rush Limbaugh-type conservative talk show host.
After the shooting, the usual suspects resort to their predictable knee-jerk responses. The black radical accuses the police department of conducting a campaign to annihilate the black community -- turning a blind eye to the fact that the suspect was a sociopath who pimped children. The white conservative immediately rushes to defend the police officer's actions. But then Ferreira introduces a series of shocking twists that ultimately reveal the truth behind the shooting and show the foolishness of people who cling to an absolute ideology regardless of the facts.
Ferreira skewers liberals and conservatives. His female television reporter is a funny but sad caricature of the media which hypes police shootings of African-Americans yet relegates most black-on-black killings to a drive-by crime blotter. There are no sacred cows in this performance which I suspect will make a lot of people uncomfortable.
"I feel like I am really honest with the characters," Ferreira says. "I really had no idea what people were going to think because people don't always do well with the truth."
"Cops and Robbers" is downright brutal in its honesty.
One of the characters describes in sickening detail how a coke addict sold her niece to a pimp. Another talks about a child molester who bragged about raping children.
Some of the content is difficult to stomach. This would be a good place to note that the play is for mature audiences only. It is most definitely NOT for children.
Yet as difficult as some portions of the play are to sit through, it will definitely make you think.
"This is a play for anyone who wants to improve the quality of life in the community," Ferreira said. "Anyone who is interested in a solution rather than in just winning the debate."
"Cops and Robbers" is co-directed by Ami Zins, former director of the Oakland Film Office and Lew Levinson.
The performance is Sept. 8 at 7 p.m. at Malonga Arts Center, 1428 Alice Street in Oakland.